Friday, 20 March 2009

Noticing graves

A girl born during the Great War was given the middle name Mons to commemorate its first major battle. I’d noticed the inscription on a 1960s grave in St Michael’s churchyard; her age and date of death are given so one can calculate when she was born. A member of the congregation remembered her and thought she’d had an uncle killed in the battle. A few weeks ago a couple visited the church when it was open on a Saturday morning saying it was their Golden Wedding that day. I dug out the marriage register for them and saw that she had the same middle name and surname; it was her mother’s grave which I’d previously noticed, and her mother was proud enough of her special middle name to pass it on to her daughter.

The time put into such research is not always as fruitful. This week I had a phone call from someone who wanted to renew a stone on a cremated remains plot ‘in St Nicolas’ churchyard’; she was worried that we were cramming new burials too close in the limited remaining space (which we are). I spent some time looking for the stone in the relevant area but couldn’t find it. I then searching the burial register without finding any reference there either, and then even went back to our pastoral records of funerals in case there had been a mistake. I phoning her back to say I was really sorry not to have got anywhere and to ask for more details. It turns out that her parents’ cremated remains are buried at St Nicholas, North Cotes (a village south of Grimsby) and not at our St Nicolas’, Great Coates (a former village on the northern edge of Grimsby).

Meanwhile, it is this less common metal grave marker in St Michael’s churchyard which has caught my eye most recently. After eighty three years the screws holding a small plaque to it have rusted away. It isn’t our job to maintain grave markers and grave stones; it would cost far too much and be far too much work. But somehow I think I’ll try to fix just this one back. All I know is that it commemorates Jackie Davis, who was loved, and who died in 1926 aged 22 months. I did find him in the burial register (he was John Alexander Davis), and I noticed that half the eighteen burials in the churchyard that year were of children aged between 5 days and 10 years.

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